Civil society groups picket Uganda High Commission


The demonstrators gathered outside the Uganda High Commission on Wednesday to protest against the anti-homosexuality law (Photos: supplied)

Civil society groups have picketed against Uganda’s anti-homosexuality law in Pretoria to highlight the devastating impact it will have on the HIV epidemic.

Organised by Pamoja4SRHR, The Global Fund Advocates Network in Africa, Access Chapter 2, and AfNHi (Africa Free of New HIV Infections), the demonstrators gathered outside the Uganda High Commission on Wednesday.

Holding up signs calling on President Yoweri Museveni to repeal the draconian legislation, they sang, danced and marched in solidarity with LGBTQ+ Ugandans.

The protestors presented a memorandum expressing their opposition to the law to a representative from the commission who came out to receive the document.

In a joint statement, the groups emphasised that to achieve the goal of ending the HIV epidemic, “people from marginalised communities need to be able to access HIV services, and HIV prevention and testing services must increase.”

They warned that the anti-homosexuality law will “push people underground, discouraging the most vulnerable populations from seeking testing, treatment and prevention…”

While Uganda has made significant strides against HIV/AIDS, the groups said that the extremism in the new legislation will hamper progress towards ending the epidemic as a public health threat by 2030.

The organisations called on African leaders, health financiers, global and regional health partners, and religious leaders to speak out against the anti-homosexuality act and other human rights violations targeting the LGBTQ+ community.

They asserted that “Your silence is deafening and cripples access to health and saving lives.”

These concerns echo similar views expressed by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). In May, they noted that the passage of the anti-homosexuality law had already led to reduced access to prevention as well as treatment services in Uganda.

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act imposes severe penalties, including life imprisonment for engaging in homosexual acts, the death penalty for aggravated homosexuality, and a 20-year prison term for “promoting” or advocating for LGBTQ+ rights.

Landlords can also face up to seven years in prison if they knowingly allow premises to be used for homosexuality, and minors engaging in homosexual acts can face three years in prison.

Regrettably, Uganda’s enactment of this law has emboldened lawmakers in other African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, and Namibia to also introduce legislation to further criminalise and oppress their LGBTQ+ citizens.

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